For an offensive lineman, a good game is where you’re not noticed by the casual fan. Fans are quick to notice penalties, missed assignments, and surrendered sacks.
Their glory is stolen by other players; quarterbacks, running backs, and wide receivers take the spotlight as the guys who touch the football.
They don’t sell tickets. Although successful offensive lines are an important component of winning football teams, fans usually come to watch the players who spend time in the end zone.
Rarely are their jerseys seen in public. Fans are more likely to purchase the jersey of a Pro Bowl running back or well-known quarterback before someone who spends their time in the trenches. And that is assuming, of course, that you can even purchase their jersey without customizing your own. Even now, Walter Jones’ jersey is not for sale at the Seahawks Pro Shop (online).
Offensive linemen don’t often find themselves in the spotlight, but Walter Jones is deserving. Not only has he been the best offensive tackle over the past fifteen years in the National Football League, but he is one of the best players to ever wear a Seattle Seahawks uniform. One could argue that Jones is the greatest Seahawks player ever; a similar argument could be made that Jones is the best athlete to ever play for the city of Seattle.
Steve Largent, Ken Griffey, Jr., Edgar Martinez, Randy Johnson, Gary Payton, Shawn Kemp, Ichiro, Shaun Alexander. Walter Jones’ name belongs at, or near, the top of that list.
Since 1997, the city of Seattle and its quarterbacks have been spoiled. Since Walter Jones was drafted sixth overall, the Seattle Seahawks haven’t had to worry much about backside pressure. Fans have been lucky enough to watch a first-ballot Hall of Fame offensive tackle play his entire career in Seattle.
And now, in 2010, it appears as if it is time to say goodbye.
Without Walter Jones, it could be argued that the Seattle Seahawks don’t make it to the Super Bowl in 2006. Shaun Alexander isn’t nearly as successful, and Matt Hasselbeck never finds comfort in the pocket. It is possible that Mike Holmgren could have been fired following the 2004 or 2005 seasons. Football in Seattle is nowhere near the same.
Think that is just an exaggeration or stretch of the imagination? So is Seattle’s offensive line without Walter Jones.
As mentioned before, Jones played his entire career with the Seattle Seahawks. He once started 180 consecutive games, unheard of for a player who spends his Sundays battling 300-pound linemen. Nine Pro Bowls, four All-Pro selections, and a member of the NFL’s All-Decade Team. And somehow, Jones managed to stay humble throughout his entire career.
Walter Jones was too modest at times, especially for an athlete of his caliber. But it only seems right that his retirement is announced through a team news release. Not in the spotlight, or in front of cameras.
Just like his career, Walter came to work and got the job done. Simple as that.
The Seahawks are immediately retiring the number 71, and rightfully so. Thanks Big Walt, we’ll see you in Canton.
Tags: All-Pro Hall Of Fame Matt Hasselbeck Mike Holmgren National Football League NFL Offensive Line Offensive Tackle Pro Bowl Russell Okung Seattle Seattle Seahawks Shaun Alexander Steve Largent Walter Jones